Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't Drink The Koolaid: Gratiuitus And Pointless Use Of 3D Rant

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, movies became successful due to the merit of their acting, directing, storytelling, plot and originality. It basically went something like this, a movie was released and if it was good, after a short time word of mouth from people seeing it would spread, thus gaining the movie an audience. That was until a little thing called special effects changed movies entirely. Now, I really have nothing against special effects, especially when they enhance the storytelling of a movie, like Star Wars Episodes 4 to 6, or The Matrix, but more often then not, movie makers rely on things like CGI (that's Computer Generated Images for those of you who don't know, but if you don't know you're probably not reading this, because you don't own a
Old School 3D Glasses
 computer). Now before CGI came around, there was a fad in the 70's called 3D, where movie goers were made to wear lame cardboard glasses and watch movies that they probably would not have watched or payed money to watch before. Fast forward to a couple years ago, and all of a sudden, I started seeing adds for movies in 3D again. The first one I really remember seeing was My Bloody Valentine, which again hearkens back to the 70's.
Ohhh, wow, a lame horror movie, but wait, is that a 3D Pick axe, now I have to see it
Making a lame horror movie be profitable can sometimes be hard, but the fact that it was in 3D, made it seem like a movie that you should go and see. Its funny, cause most of the teens and early twenties of today have no memory of 70's 3D, so they actually think they are seeing something new, and guess what, they are drinking the movie industry's koolaid, cause they are buying it like crazy, (ahh, koolaid, what great memories I have of that giant pitcher of juice, crashing through the wall to save kids from their terrible thirst, hey, I wonder what the koolaid guy would look like in 3D).
Watch out for those flying 3D Bricks, Oh Yeah!!!!
Ok, so like special effects, I don't hate 3D, but it seems to me in the last two years it has become a terrible fad again. You see, I think 3D can be a really cool effect to enhance the movie going experience, but the problem I have is that it is now actually changing the way that movies are made. What I mean is that, once upon a time, like special effects, movie makers dreamed up the story, and how they wanted to tell it, and then either worked with the special effects of the time to do it, or created their own special effects to make it happen, (George Lucas was a pioneer in this with the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, he saw what he wanted in his head, and since there were no special effects to make it happen, him and his buddies invented a bunch of stuff, a lot of which is still used today). But now, movies are being made the opposite way, in that the directors are looking at the technology and making actual story and plot choices to fit the tech. (sadly, George Lucas is also guilty of this, unlike the original Star Wars movies, when he made the 3 prequel abominations, he sat down with a bunch of people and looked at the tech aspect and then tapered his story towards what it could do, to show off the CGI and how smart their computer nerds were, boooooo) The first movie I actually saw in the current version of 3D was Avatar, and after seeing it in 3D and also normally, I can say that they did a good job, and it worked, but I think it worked because it is a big action movie that has lots of stuff that suited the 3D experience, but it would have been fine even if they had not put it in 3D. On the other hand, you have a movie like Monsters VS Aliens, (now before anyone starts harking on me, let me say I love Monsters VS Aliens, it is an awesome movie, and that is kinda my point in this) which used a shot like this,
Wow, I am so glad that the script called for a paddle ball scene

So, what is the big deal right, the guy was playing paddle ball, who doesn't love paddle ball, (well, actually, my oldest daughter doesn't, she has had about 8 paddle balls and every time she tries her best to hit that little red ball and after a minute the string breaks and she throws in on the ground in understandable frustration) but think about it, why was he playing paddle ball? Here is your answer, he was playing paddle ball because someone figured out that it would make a cool 3D effect to have the ball come out towards the viewer in 3 dimensions. And that is a problem to me, cause right there you have a technique dictating what was show on screen. I would be willing to bet a million dollars* that if you looked at the original script for Monsters VS Aliens that the whole paddle ball gag was not in there, but only added because they decided to put the movie in 3D. So I don't think 3D is bad in and of itself, but just like in the 70's, more and more movies that really do not have any business being in 3D are, in hopes of cashing in, are grabbing at the proverbial 3 Dimensional straw. Here are just a few movies that were not confident enough to be viewed on their actual merit and are guilty of this offense.

Really, No, REALLY!

Smarter then your average 3D?   
This shouldn't even be a movie, no matter 3D
A sad attempt to breath life into a lame dying franchise
And lastly, here is a you tube video that kinda drives my point home at how overused and pathetic this whole thing really is.
So yeah, I hate gratuitous and needless uses of 3D effects, it insults our intelligence and is the worst type of film making. I am not saying that movies that use 3D when they shouldn't are bad movies(well, except for the four I used as examples, they all suck in ways that are too graphic for me to actually talk about here) but they should have had the courage to put their storytelling out there without jumping on a bandwagon, 3 Dimensional or otherwise. To finish I just thought I would mention that out of the 10 movies nominated for best picture of the year for the 2010 Oscars, only
These glasses were actually modeled
after my friend Jade's glasses
 one of them made any use of 3D, and that was Toy Story 3. I think that says something, good movies don't need gimmicks, sure, they had special effects, (Inception was actually mind blowing in that department, but it was done the right way, the story drove the effects, not the effects driving the story, plus I love the fact that Christopher Nolan will not even consider using 3D for making the next Batman movie, kudos to him) but they were all story driven, and effects are just another tool in the film makers toolbox, like lighting or music. Well that is it, I hope my 2 dimensional rant didn't bore you too much, have a good day, whatever dimension you may be in, and I'll rant at you later.

*Bet will not be honored.

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